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Turok Demo Impressions.

January 15, 2008

I like dinosaurs; I think it’s safe to say that every small child had a fascination with the lumbering lizards at some stage in time. As such, one of the most painful things in gaming to watch was the decline of the Turok franchise, with ‘Evolution’ being a final punch in the face when after being promised intelligent dinosaur pack activities I received about two levels of enjoyable dinosaur hunting followed by some of the most mundane shooting against humanoids developed for the Gamecube.

And so here we are with Turok’s attempt at penetrating the mire of FPS games and with PR jargon such as ‘eliminate your enemies with stealth kills or blast them with massive weaponry!’ and ‘kill savage beasts or use them to eliminate foes!’ I was expecting a terrible game but much to my relief, I was wrong.

You start the demo in a cave, and eventually you come across some raptors. Initially I was plugging them full of lead, not getting anywhere very fast with enemies taking a lot of lead before accepting the cold grip of death, and so I switched to my knife (like any sane person being roared at by a ten tonne lizard would do, obviously) and discovered the first instance of the game being a smidge on the broken side. When wielding a knife the dinosaurs drop like flies due to a simple prompt of pulling the right trigger, Turok gets all stabby on his opponent and severs a few vital organs before dropping them to the floor like a rag doll. Suddenly a group of three velociraptors was less threatening than a Jigglypuff covered in bubble wrap.

However, escape from the grey cave and you will come to a lush jungle, which discards most feelings of graphical disappointment that no doubt settled while in the grey cave. Tiny dinosaurs scurry around while foliage is displaced as you pass through it. It’s no looker compared to most games, but the dinosaur animations and effects that scatter the landscape do impress. However, the demo does suffer a few clipping issues with the smaller dinosaurs.

And so onto the inevitable human opponents, the worst thing about these guys is that they are all completely faceless, much like the Hellgaust in Killzone, but much less Nazi. The best thing to come out of these enemies was when I shot one in the face with the bow, it’s satisfying, and that when there is a dinosaur about they will actually shoot at it if it is focused on them instead of specifically going for you because you’re the player, and because one of my guilty gaming pleasures is watching two AI opponents scrap I was happy to wait and watch, then mop up the survivors. And there the demo ends.

It’s really a shame that I had to endure individual dinosaurs, then individual humans before encountering a conflict involving all parties, which was easily the most interesting part. If the full game manages to keep Turok out of buildings and labs and the like (basically, anywhere that will only offer humans opponents) and keep the dinosaurs coming then it could be an enjoyable if mindless FPS.

As an after thought, I would have loved it if the little carnivores nibbled on the corpses I left behind. Oh and also, I want a scene involving tall grass and dinosaurs moving through it so all I see to notify me to their presence is the way the grass is being displaced.

I wouldn’t mind trying the multiplayer, with its added dinosaurs…

Oh and the cerebral bore best make its return, else it’s not Turok.

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